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Cyber crooks increasingly targeting home devices: report

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Cyber criminals are shifting their attention from traditional computers to internet-connected devices in Canadian homes, says the government’s cyber security agency.

In its cyber threat assessment for 2018, the newly created Canadian Centre for Cyber Security says the growing number of devices connected to the internet like « televisions, home appliances, thermostats and cars » have become an attractive target.

« Manufacturers have rushed to connect more types of devices to the internet, often prioritizing ease of use over security, » the centre wrote in its report made public Thursday.

« We regularly observe cyber threat actors exploiting security flaws in devices resulting in either disruption to device functionality or using devices as platforms to launch other malicious cyber activities. »

Cybercriminals used thousands of devices connected to the internet — from baby monitors to air quality monitors and surveillance cameras — to launch a botnet attack in October 2016, the centre said.

« The botnet conducted a powerful Distributed Denial of Service (attack) that disrupted a major website domain manager, temporarily disabling some of the world’s most popular e-commerce, entertainment and social media sites for millions of users. »

Canada’s cyber security agency says crooks are moving from attacks on traditional computers to attacks on internet-connected home devices. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

Enterprising cybercriminals have even infected devices connected to the internet with malware to mine cryptocurrency — with the owner of the device often being oblivious to what is going on.

While cybercrime isn’t new, the centre predicts cyber attacks on Canadians are going to rise in number.

« Stealing personal and financial information is lucrative for cybercriminals and is very likely to increase. »

The centre said it sees cybercriminals becoming more organized and developing business-like processes.

Selling stolen information

« Cybercrime is now so prevalent and sophisticated that it sustains illegal online marketplaces, » the centre wrote. « These cybercrime marketplaces offer illicit goods, stolen information and malware. Some cybercrime marketplaces even offer customer support and rating functions. »

With the next federal election scheduled for 2019, the centre is also expecting other countries to use the web, botnets and troll farms to try to influence the opinion of Canadians and exploit divisions or controversies.

« Although major web platforms are making efforts to curb the negative effects of manipulative information sharing, the opinions of Canadians will remain an attractive target for cyber threat actors seeking to influence Canada’s democratic processes. »

An increasing number of Canadians are using smart speakers and other devices connected to the internet. (Amazon/Google/Apple)

The centre cited a CBC News report that found Russia’s Internet Research Agency used its trolls to comment on Canadian issues like the January 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting and asylum seekers crossing the border in the summer of 2017.

The centre said Canadian businesses will continue to be attractive targets and increasingly their executives will be as well.

« Whaling occurs when an executive with authority to issue large payments receives a message appearing to come from a relevant department or employee, urging them to direct funds to an account controlled by a cyber threat actor. »

Corporate espionage remains a threat, particularly for businesses in strategic sectors of the economy or which have attractive intellectual property or commercially sensitive information. Companies with large databases are targeted by cyber crooks who try to extort businesses by revealing confidential client information.

Paying cyber ransom

« Some businesses decide that paying a ransom is cheaper than the costs associated with ignoring a cyber ransom. Yet cyber threat actors can decide to delete, modify or release information even if a payment is made. »

The increased availability of cyber tools and the increasing interconnection of devices has also made it easier to launch attacks on Canada’s critical infrastructure, the centre said.

« State-sponsored cyber threat actors have conducted cyber espionage against critical infrastructure networks in Canada and allied nations. In Canada, these threat actors have conducted reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering in the energy, aerospace and defence sectors. »

However, the other countries don’t appear to be poised to do anything with that information — at least not yet.

« At this time, we assess it is very unlikely that state-sponsored cyber threat actors would intentionally seek to disrupt Canadian critical infrastructure and cause major damage in the absence of international hostilities. »

The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security is predicting other countries will be using Twitter and social media to try to influence Canadian opinion in 2019.

Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at elizabeth.thompson@cbc.ca



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A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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